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This newest electronic edition of the Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association newsletter is designed to be easy to read on your computer monitor or mobile device. We welcome any suggestions or feedback to make it better.
Good Roads: Legislators should "listen to their constituents," restore road funds

The Louisiana Legislature should "listen to their constituents" and reject Gov. Bobby Jindal's budget proposal to strip more than $70 million from transportation projects to pay for state police operations and salaries, the state's top transportation advocacy group said.


Kenneth Perret, president of the Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association, noted that the budget proposal for the state's 2016 fiscal year was presented on the same day (March 24) that LSU released a survey that 73 percent of Louisiana citizens want the state to spend more money on roads and bridges.

"More does not mean less," Perret said. "The time has come for Louisiana's legislators to listen to their constituents and spend transportation taxes on transportation projects." 


The LSU Public Policy Research Lab's Louisiana Survey: 2015, parts of which were released Tuesday, asked voters if they want more, less or the same spending on roads, bridges and highways. Seventy-three percent said more money should be spent, while only five percent said less money should be spent. 


The LSU survey revealed that transportation (73%) was voters' second-highest spending priority after K-1 education (76%). Roads and bridges scored the same as higher education and scored higher than health care (56%), prisons and law enforcement (35%) and public assistance programs (18%).


In the 1980s, voters decided to dedicate state motor fuel taxes of 20 cents-per-gallon to the Transportation Trust Fund to pay for transportation projects. The tax does not adjust for inflation, it has not been increased since 1990, and the state has since accumulated a transportation project backlog of more than $12 billion. Despite the voters' will and public opinion, the state has used  $418 million dollars of the gasoline tax since 2005 to pay for state police operations, which traditionally have been paid through the general fund. 


"Good Roads supports the work of the Louisiana State Police, but we don't believe their operations should be funded out of the Transportation Trust Fund," Perret said. "That was not the intent of the voters, and we now see that is not the will of the people. We call on the legislature to restore those funds to the trust fund and find other ways to raise revenue for the state police."

Task Force wants state to "review and consider" 15 ideas to fund transportation

The Louisiana Transportation Funding Task Force charged with coming up with the best methods to increase funding for transportation has produced a laundry list of 15 items for current and future governors and legislatures to consider implementing.

The task force, created by a legislative resolution during the 2014 session, calls on state leaders to "review and consider" the 15 items, which include:
  • indexing the motor fuels tax
  • converting the volume-based motor fuels tax to a sales tax
  • immediately moving vehicle sales tax revenues from the general fund to the Transportation Trust Fund
  • embracing and encouraging public/private partnerships
  • seeking new sources of revenue for transportation projects, including assessment of alternative fuel vehicles, taxes on internet purchases and capturing excess funds from mineral revenues
  • giving local governments the ability to raise revenue for transportation projects

The task force listened to testimony and accepted reports from several groups and agencies. Members of the task force included Sen. Robert Adley, Sen. Jack Donahue, Rep. Karen St. Germain, Rep. Terry Landry, DOTD Secretary Sherri LeBas, Maj. Gen. John Basilica of Good Roads, Ken Naquin of AGC and Dr. Kam Movassaghi, representing ACEC/L and ASCE.

You can view the task force's two-part final report here and here.
LA Clean Fuels: Taxing Alternative Fuels

Louisiana Clean Fuels (LCF) Executive Director, Ann Shaneyfelt, and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Transportation Technology Deployment Manager, Alex Schroeder, spoke to the Louisiana Transportation Funding Task Force on Fri. Feb 20. The two presented facts about the current state of alternative fuels usage in Louisiana, as well as the methods of state transportation taxation.

Shaneyfelt gave an update on the size and composition of the alternative fuels industry in Louisiana, citing issues of parity and compliance as motivating factors in many states' decisions to change how alternative fuels in transportation are taxed. 

According to Schroeder, Transportation funding was the most legislated issue nationally in 2014, and alternative fuels introduced a level of complexity that states didn't need to consider before. As vehicles are manufactured to be more fuel efficient, there is a decrease in revenues to pay for the roads and transportation infrastructure. Shaneyfelt pointed to the various companies that are converting their on- and off-road fleets to natural gas and propane as evidence that alternative fuel vehicles are a steadily growing minority, and that this may be an issue worthy of new legislation.

Schroeder outlined the "fuel agnostic approaches," which are broad policy fixes that have been set in place in North America, but noted that there is not yet a consensus on what the best approach is. . . 


Gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle visits with Good Roads President Kenneth Perret at a recent Good Roads Board of Directors meeting. All four of the announced candidates for governor - Angelle, Jay Dardenne, John Bel Edwards and David Vitter - have met with the board.
Tax Justice: Nine States and Counting Have Raised the Gas Tax Since 2013
Senior Policy Analyst at ITEP, Carl Davis, continued the Tax Justice series outlining state tax trends being debated during 2015 legislative sessions. The most recent update comes from Iowa, which now has a 10-cent increase in gas and diesel tax rate. Iowa is the ninth state to either raise or reform its gas tax in just over two years.
State transportation leader applauds budget committee's vote

A recent legislative vote to stop the administration's latest multi-million dollar raid on the Louisiana Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) reflects the public's demand that TTF dollars be spent on transportation improvement projects, according to the state's top transportation advocacy group.

State Sen. Robert Adley made an impassioned plea to the Louisiana Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget recently to reject the Division of Administration's request to transfer about $6 million from the trust fund to cover state police cuts in the current budget. Kenneth Perret, president of the Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association, said Adley showed courage and leadership in convincing the committee to reject the transfer from the TTF.

"Senator Adley stood up for everyone in Louisiana who is tired of the condition of our roads and the diversion of dollars that could be used to improve them," Perret said. "This was a watershed moment in not only restoring money to the trust fund but restoring trust to the citizens who voted to dedicate those transportation taxes to transportation improvement projects."

Adley told the budget committee members that the frequent raids on the TTF to balance the general fund is wrong because the state's voters decided in 1989 to dedicate the TTF to transportation needs. In the past several years, the administration and legislature have drained tens of millions of dollars from the TTF to cover general fund shortfalls in what Adley and others believe is an inappropriate use of the gas tax revenues that fund the TTF.

"Somebody, sooner or later, has to stand up and say, 'we've got to stop this. We just can't keep doing this.'" Adley said in the meeting.

Adley, who is term limited, warned his fellow committee members they will have to answer for their complicity in allowing transportation tax dollars to be spent on other budget expenses. "The public's going to want to know what happened to our roads," he said.

Letter to the Editor: Kenneth Perret

notebook-edges-sm.jpg Editor's note: This letter to the editor from Good Roads President Kenneth Perret was published by most major newspapers in Louisiana, including The Advocate, Shreveport Times, Monroe News Star, Lafayette Advertiser, Lafayette Independent, Lake Charles American Press and Houma Courrier.

Dear editor,

In 1989, Louisiana voters wanted to make sure that state taxes on gas and diesel were spent on transportation-related improvements, so they wisely passed a constitutional amendment to create the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF). Until recently, that fund was a stable, albeit inadequate, source to finance construction and maintenance projects for roads, bridges and ports. However, the per gallon tax was not protected from the effects of inflation, and the original 0.16 cents per gallon tax has lost half of its buying power.  The cost of construction has continued to increase, and thus we have a multi-billion dollar backlog of transportation needs in the state.  The TTF law permits a percentage of the fund to pay for some state police services, computer technology, risk management and other expenses that many believe should be general fund obligations. Because of general revenue shortfalls, the Administration has used the provisions of the TTF to cover these budget items, thus reducing the funds that could be spent on transportation projects.


This fiscal year, more than $200 million TTF dollars have been used to help balance the state budget.  This action decreases funding for desperately needed highway construction projects to relieve congestion, improve safety and help make Louisiana economically competitive with Texas and other states. Everyone knows the state budget is in trouble, and the refusal of our governor and legislature to find a way to add revenue to the transportation program is not acceptable. Voters in 1989 decided that transportation funding was very important and should be protected. Today, voters should demand that our government adequately fund the TTF.  Nobody likes taxes, but remember: Good roads cost money, but bad roads cost more! "Big Oil" can cause the price of gas to go up $0.26 cents a gallon in one week as it did in mid February, and people just shrug their shoulders and fill their tanks. But suggest a $0.05 per gallon tax increase to fund badly need road and bridge work, and our tea party friends go bonkers. The old saying, "don't tax you and don't tax me, just tax the guy behind the tree" still seems to be what our state leaders believe in. Until that changes, we can expect more congestion, degrading safety, rough roads and deficient bridges.


Kenneth Perret, P.E.


Louisiana Good Roads and Transportation Association

Wall Street Journal: Spending on our Crumbling Infrastructure
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers recently told a Princeton University Audience: "At this moment . . . the share of public investment in GDP, adjusting for depreciation, so that's net share, is zero. Zero. We're not net investing at all, nor is Western Europe." WSJ correspondent David Wessel checked the facts to find that Summers wasn't exaggerating. The Bureau of Economic Analysis's National Income and Product Accounts tables showed that non-defense investment spending was about 0.06% of GDP. 
Wessel points to the U.S. government's current ability to borrow at low interest rates, repeating Summers' cries that now is a good time for the government to borrow for long-term investments. However, any infrastructure spending bill is trapped by partisan gridlock.
Calling all golf fans!
How would you like to enjoy Louisiana's premier golf tournament, The Zurich Classic, while helping a worthy cause without costing you a dime?

The American Council of Engineering Companies of Louisiana is looking for volunteers to operate ShotLink, the equipment used to measure the distance between the ball and another spot on the golf course, from April 23-26 at the TPC Louisiana course in Avondale. The Fore!Kids Foundation produces the Zurich Classic, which raises money for children's charities in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas. Check out their website and the impressive list of the charities they support. Volunteers help the Fore!Kids Foundation save money they would otherwise have to spend on hiring people to man the ShotLink stations.


Interested? Send an email to for more information.

INFRASTRUCTURE! John Oliver, Last Week Tonight
Watch this hilarious spoof for a fictional TV series, Infrastructure, which follows civil engineers who "risk everything to make nothing happen."


Good Roads
P.O. Box 3713
Baton Rouge, LA 70821